Line of Duty star Tommy Jessop opens up on life with Down syndrome: Stop holding us back

He skyrocketed to fame on hit show Line of Duty, and now Tommy Jessop has something else to celebrate – being named the new ambassador for Mencap, the UK's leading learning disability charity.

And, as the first actor with Down syndrome to star in a prime-time BBC drama, the 36 year old star is determined to use his new position to show others that they can do the same.

In a candid chat with OK! , the talented actor urged people "not to hold those with Down syndrome back."

Tommy said: "I hope that through my acting I can help people to start dreaming and believing in themselves.

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"I reckon we should all have dreams and ambitions in life. Everyone has got a gift inside of them so people need to help us discover our talents and skills and please don't hold us back by saying we can't do things.

"Enjoy the differences we bring to the world, and let us show that we truly are capable of doing things."

Tommy played the hit role of Terry Boyle in Line of Duty and he was thrilled when the series bagged the gong for Best Returning Drama.

Tommy boosted his career in 2019 after being accepted on the BAFTA Elevate program, which supports actors from underrepresented groups.

After he left school, he founded Blue Apple Theatre, a group dedicated to assisting actors with learning disabilities in taking their next steps on stage.

When asked if he's had people thanking him for inspiring them with his acting, Tommy said: "I think I've inspired people. The support too has been overwhelming. I feel very honoured and proud about all of this."

Explaining what a day in life of Tommy is like, he continued to tell OK! that "no two days are the same."

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He shared: "One of the best things about my life is that sometimes I might be on Zoom calls, or sometimes I might be learning scripts or I might be spending time acting.

"I also enjoy cooking and I help local charities with social media. I also love watching the football, and the transfer news."

Will he be returning to our screens any time soon? Well, it seems he will, but he can't tell us in what.

"It's mostly top secret," Tommy shared, adding: "Hopefully I'll do some more acting. Line of Duty was brilliant. I'm so glad everyone enjoyed it – everyone was hooked! It was great to get my teeth around such an important character. The cast were wicked. I felt like I was on a James Bond site!"

Now, the inspirational actor will be holding the role of Mencap Ambassador – a role he is "very excited" about, but equally "overwhelmed."

He believes passionately that disabled people need to be given chances to appear on screen, playing a wide variety of characters, and he believes that the biggest barrier is breaking down any preconceptions directors might have.

"There are millions of people in the UK with learning disabilities. I hope to use my role to stop people saying that we can't do certain things. Instead people should all be saying 'yes, you can.' We need to show we really are capable of different things," Tommy added.

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